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Melvaunt (pronounced MELL-vont[2]) was a city that sat on the northern coast of the Moonsea, adjacent to Thar. It was a city of smithing and mercantile services, [3] serving as the port of entry to many travelers coming to the region. [4] The city itself was cold and gray, with a mist that rose from the Moonsea seeming to cover it entirely. [3]

GovernmentEdit

A Council of Lords ruled over the city of Melvaunt, though they were more often concerned with affairs that could line their coffers. All members were required to be merchants of some kind and vacant seats could be purchased for for at least 100,000 gp while a new one could be created starting at a sum of 2,000,000 gp.[5] In 1373 DR, there were 21 seats on the council, with one vacant.[note 1]

Four positions in the council had more influence than others. The Lord Chancellor was Chairman of the Council, Treasurer and also Last Speaker. The First Envoy was the Council's First Speaker and Diplomat. The Lord of the Keys was the General of Melvaunt's army while the Lord of the Waves was the Admiral of it's navy and Chief Inspector of the city's docks. Below these four lords, all of the others were theoretically equal in influence. The lords met once a month to discuss issues but these meetings could last up to five days depending on the importance of the topics being discussed and the power plays made by council members.[6]

The council did not tax its citizens like most governments, instead, the treasury was filled by taxes on every single transaction made; taxes on the mooring of ships in the city's harbor; and taxes on every conveyance entering through the city's gates as well as state seizures of property. The lack of state taxation ensured the Council's popularity with the citizenry, despite near-constant infighting and jockeying for better position.

Melvaunt

The ports of Melvaunt

TradeEdit

Guilds held much of the power within the city, primarily through legitimate trade but also as a front for criminal organizations. This caused many foreign traders to become apprehensive about underpricing the local merchants.[3]

Ships from Melvaunt constantly traded goods to Mulmaster and Hillsfar, where they could be more efficiently distributed around the region. Legitimate trade with Zhentil Keep was dangerous and rare, but the black market was alive and well.[7]

As well as the cities primary exports of worked metal goods, Melvaunt was also a popular stop for those interested in the purchase of slaves. The slave trade was tolerated by the citizenry due to fears of the involvement of powerful wizards in the business. This fear was, in part, valid, since Zhentarim agents were surreptitiously replacing Melvaunt's own slavers in 1369 DR[8]

DefensesEdit

Melvaunt had a curtain wall surrounding it, wide enough for armed patrols of five men to march atop, which they did night and day. The Melvauntian army doubled as the city guard and was kept at a steady number of five thousand trained men wearing plate mail and wielding halberds, longswords and clubs. Halmuth Bruil commanded the army as a whole, while Abarel Stendale was captain of those on guard duty. Meldonder Nurian was admiral in charge of Melvaunt's navy - which was small (between twelve and twenty ships of varying sizes), but being steadily upgraded. Old ships were sold when they became too outdated.

Adventurers were welcome to hire on as mercenaries for the ruling nobles and as long-range troubleshooters when threats arose from the sea, Zhentil Keep or Thar. The Council had also proven amenable to hiring entire mercenary armies from Hillsfar if they felt suitably threatened.

Finally, inspectors on the docks were all equipped with magical items that spewed fire for use if trouble arose on visiting ships.

HistoryEdit

Melvaunt's recorded history was primarily one of conflict with creatures from Thar and forces out of Zhentil Keep. In 902 DR, Melvaunt was drawn into a battle between it's ally Phlan and Zhentil Keep, who had invaded part of Phlan. Melvaunt's navy drove off the Zhentilar invaders but the allies were steadily beaten by the Zhentilar in the resulting four-year-long war. Just as defeat seemed inevitable, the creation of Shadowdale to the south distracted the Zhentilar enough that they abandoned the war and bullied both Phlan and Melvaunt into signing the Treaty of the Ride.[9]

Around 1261 DR, orcs out of Thar stormed Melvaunt's outposts among other settlements surrounding their territory. Zhentil Keep (who had arranged the orc attacks in the first place) pushed the tuskers back in an effort to regain support from their neighbours so they could be better persuaded to help fortify the Citadel of the Raven. Melvaunt was one of eight Moonsea powers who fell for this ploy, sending warriors and construction crews to secure and strengthen the massive fortress in 1276 DR.

In 1303 DR, Melvaunt refused to send aid to Phlan when it was attacked by the ogres of Thar, leading its ally to be overrun. Melvaunt itself was then attacked by the same horde, but fared better, managing to survive the assault despite Zhentarim agents assisting the ogres. Three years later, Melvaunt was involved in the Moonsea War against Mulmaster, helping to defeat Mulmaster and free the River Lis up so they could again trade with the realms surrounding the Sea of Fallen Stars.

During the 1340s, Zhentil Keep and Mulmaster both tried to pit the other Moonsea powers against each other, spurring assassinations and arson attacks in each other's ports. It all culminated in the Battle of Lisen Sands in 1346 DR when Mulmaster again tried to blockade the Lis. Melvaunt eagerly sent it's fleet out to vent it's frustrations against the architects of its recent troubles.

In 1347 DR, Melvaunt narrowly avoided a direct attack from the Zhentarim thanks to forewarning from Phlanite scouts and the refusal of the Zhentarim's orc mercenaries to redirect their attack via Thar. Eight years later, adventuring diviners gave advance warning of the Zhentarim betrayal at the Citadel of the Raven, allowing Melvaunt to save their troops from walking into a trap. Lord Rather, who was Chancellor at the time, declared an official end to the Triple Alliance forced upon the city by the Treaty of the Ride and banned the Zhentilar from Melvaunt. A reprisal was organised by the Zhentilar as Melvaunt's army marched home, but hired mercenaries from Hillsfar surrounded the Zhents before they could reach Melvaunt's walls.

In 1356 DR, Melvaunt was embarrassed when it was discovered that one of its own, Lyran Nanther, was a lieutenant of the Zhentarim agent Jyordhan and had him executed when he returned, defeated, from a failed invasion of Shadowdale. Around the same time, Melvaunt began building a large military fleet, more than sixty ships strong, all of which appear to have been destroyed two months later when a dragon split off from the Dragon Run and temporarily conquered the city, ruining a significant portion of it. Rather than rebuilding the city, when the dragon left, the Council of Lords began rebuilding the fleet instead. The following year, the fleet was involved in a disastrous three-way naval battle with Zhentil Keep and Mulmaster. Immediately afterward, it became apparent that Lord Orm had absconded with the city's treasury to an estate outside of Zhentil Keep, where he was considered the ruler of Melvaunt in absentia by the Zhents. Civil war followed as the most powerful merchant families tried to install their own members in Orm's vacant seat.

The spring of 1367 DR saw unusual cold weather compared to the warmth experienced by neighbouring cities. Firewood came to be in great demand and reinforced the public's disapproval of the worship of Auril.[10]

When Lord Envoy Dundeld Nanther, an experienced and influential politician, died around 1373 DR, it left a power vacuum in Melvaunt that threatened to spark another civil war between the noble families to fill Dundeld's empty seat.[1] The Leiyraghons cancelled all of their annual public events and doubled the guard presence on their property; the Nanthers themselves entered a period of mourning while the Bruils, already in control of the city's army, also upgraded the equipment of their private guards in a clear show of their intent to fill the Lord Envoy's seat with one of their own.[6] Meanwhile, nobles from other cities also made attempts to purchase the seat, many such offers were refused out of hand by the rest of the Council.[11]

After the Shadowbane War between the Zhentarim and Netheril, Melvaunt struck a fragile pact with Myth Drannor to curb Netheril's power on the Moonsea.[12]

Notable locationsEdit

InhabitantsEdit

AppendixEdit

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. Ed Greenwood's original writeup of Melvaunt instead said that there were 39 seats on the council.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  2. Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (Cyclopedia of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 60. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 9. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  4. Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds (2006-06-07). Mysteries of the Moonsea Excerpt 2. Excerpts. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2007-03-17.
  5. Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 11. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  7. Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds (2006-06-07). Mysteries of the Moonsea Excerpt 2. Excerpts. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2007-03-17.
  8. Kevin Melka and John Terra (April 1995). Ruins of Zhentil Keep (Campaign Book). (TSR, Inc), p. 45. ISBN 0-7869-0109-8.
  9. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 110. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  10. Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), Running the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 20. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
  11. Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 17. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  12. {(cite book/Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide|150}}

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